Moving Medicine: a new tool for health professionals launched

Taking regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, sleeping enough, moderate alcohol intake and not smoking are all part of living a healthy lifestyle, which can improve people’s physical and mental health. 

General practitioners have an important role in supporting patients to live healthily and make changes to improve their lifestyles. They often have discussions with patients during consultations about healthy lifestyles, including taking more exercise. The advice they give is not limited to what types of exercises to take to cut down weight but also to help with specific problems such as back pain or help improve mental health. 

This week,  new resource was launched to help doctors and healthcare professionals talk about physical activity with patients at the International Society for Physical Activity. 

The new Moving Medicine tool will help healthcare professionals advise patients on how physical activity can help them to manage their conditions, prevent disease and recover. The resource has been produced by the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) in partnership with Public Health England and Sport England with support from National Lottery funding. The RCGP worked closely with the FSEM to develop the primary care module of the moving medicine resource to ensure it provides useful information and guidance for GPs and primary care teams. 

Evidence suggests that one in four people would be more active if they were advised by a GP or a nurse, however, almost three quarters of GPs say they do not speak about the benefits of physical activity. 

A survey of 1000 GPs found only one in five were broadly or very familiar with the Chief Medical Officer’s physical activity guidelines. Less than half (44 percent) were confident to discuss physical activity with patients. Over half (55 percent) had done no specific training on physical activity. 

Dr Matt Hoghton, Medical Director of the Clinical Innovation and Research Centre at the RCGP said: “This is a great resource which is so easy to use. We are starting to understand that physical inactivity kills and sitting is the new smoking. Good quality conversation at the end of a consultation is incredibly effective in changing people’s levels of physical activity. This toolkit gives you everything you need for a one minute, five minutes and even more minute conversation, complete with step-by-step guides, behavioural change insights and all the evidence to back it up"

Dr Paul D Jackson, President, Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (UK) said: “We all believe that introducing more physical activity into every care pathway across the NHS is an essential, cost-effective intervention to improve people’s health. Moving Medicine will ensure that all health care professionals have up to date information on physical activity presented in a useable, easy to understand format, enabling them to inform their patients and motivate them to become more active.”

Physical Activity and Lifestyle is a clinical priority for the RCGP. The College is also working with partners to develop resources for GPs and primary care teams to help them to educate patients on how physical activity and healthy lifestyles can positively impact their long-term health and wellbeing.

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